Cu/Zn Superoxide Dismutase (SOD1), is a ubiquitous antioxidant enzyme with several emerging roles outside of its canonical function. SOD1 is also emerging in central roles in cancer and neurodegenerative pathologies. Little is known about SOD1 regulation, particularly at a post-translational level. Post-translational modifications (PTMs) play an important role in enabling proteins to rapidly respond to their environment. Therefore, identifying specific PTMs involved in protein regulation represents a powerful opportunity to interfere with any associated pathologies. This work employs proteomics to identify mechanisms of post-translation regulation on cell survival signaling proteins. We focused on SOD1, which protects cells from oxidative stress. We found that acylation of K122 on SOD1, while not impacting SOD1 catalytic activity, suppressed the ability of SOD1 to inhibit mitochondrial metabolism at respiratory complex I. We found that deacylase depletion increased K122 acylation on SOD1, which blocked suppression of respiration in a K122-dependent manner. In addition, we found that acyl-mimicking mutations at K122 decreased SOD1 accumulation in mitochondria, initially hinting that SOD1 may inhibit respiration directly within the intermembrane space (IMS). However, surprisingly, we found that forcing the K122 acyl mutants into the mitochondria with an IMS-targeting tag did not recover their ability to suppress respiration. Moreover, we found that suppressing or boosting respiration levels toggled SOD1 in or out of the mitochondria, respectively. These findings place SOD1-mediated inhibition of respiration upstream of its mitochondrial localization. Interestingly, we also found that K122 acyl mutants were sufficient to prevent mitochondrial accumulation of the G93A SOD1 clinical mutant. We observed increased autophagic activity in G93A expressing cells compared to WT or G93A/K122-acyl mimic double mutants, and found that this double mutant was just as prone to aggregate as G93A SOD1—suggesting that SOD1 aggregation is more toxic when in the mitochondria. We observed increased protein turnover rates in cells expressing SOD1 G93A, in support of increased autophagy. Lastly, deletion-rescue experiments show that a respiration-defective mutant of SOD1 is also impaired in its ability to rescue cells from toxicity caused by SOD1 deletion. Together, these data suggest a new interplay between SOD1 acylation, metabolic regulation, SOD1 aggregate toxicity, and SOD1-mediated cell survival.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





superoxide dismutase, SOD1, mitochondria, SIRT5, respiration, PTM, autophagy

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Chemistry Commons